The 4.3 billion year old collision that changed the moon

The The dark side of the moon It has always fascinated and inspired, so much so that it became the title of one of the most famous music albums in history. A recent study conducted by a number of specialized researchers showed how a huge asteroid will change our satellite forever. When exactly does this historical event date back?


Asteroids are often brought in to explain controversial phenomena, as has been the case in the case of recent theories about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the case of the moon, we’re talking about what happened 4.3 billion years agowhen a celestial body crashes onto this surface, destroying it in an important way.

The moon’s craters are perhaps one of its most distinctive features, according to the International Astronomical Union No less than 9 thousand visible. However, it is not evenly distributed and the aforementioned dark side is hard to spot. A massive collision has long been suspected, to be exact an event that could explain the creation of a basin Antarctica – AitkenThe crater is 2,500 km wide and more than 8 km deep. According to the new study, the impact could have caused a unique situation with respect to the lunar mantle, the layer of magma that lies exactly under the crust.

Questions to answer

Matt Jones, a doctoral student in planetary sciences at Brown University in the US, explained the details of the research. According to him, the question raised at the beginning of the study relates to how heat affects The internal dynamics of the moon. Several discoveries in recent months have revealed basic facts about the satellite, such as the effects of magnetism that protects the ice, while this impact with the asteroid still raises a series of questions. Researchers knew how lava fields formed in the lunar mantle, thanks to Potassium, phosphorous and thorium Found in samples that have been reported back to Earth so far, the new study goes even further.

Oldest dig

In particular, it was understood how a celestial body and its collision with the Moon caused a plume of heat to flow into the mantle itself, pushing the radioactive elements present towards the Earth’s crust. There have been several simulations of the effect, assuming Direct hits and “distortion” blows, but they weren’t a crucial detail: In any case, the asteroid would have preferred lava to escape from the mantle, covering the oldest craters. So we can very well understand how the lunar morphology was decisively changed 4.3 billion years ago, up to the current structure that everyone knows.

According to what the researchers who conducted the simulation and study indicated, what happened at a very distant time on the surface of the moon would have contributed to the decay of the mantle and then to production of lava flows. The authors of the research are convinced that they have solved what is considered one of the most important questions that lunar science has always asked itself. Travel to our satellite is about to return to reality, it is even thought to bring the Internet to this part of the universe, so the current moon is very different from the moon of billions and billions of years ago. What has not changed is undoubtedly the gravity exerted by the celestial body closest to us.

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